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Essay: The Time I Met An Alien In Berlin
Admittedly, if you are going to meet an Alien from planet Venus, Berlin is probably the best place to do it. Doubly so because I lived in ‘Greenhouse.’ Greenhouse was a great, big, green observatory-looking building in Hermanstrasse, which used to be a block of offices but against every rule and regulation in the book, had been turned into an artists commune instead. It was like an office block after a mad max style apocalypse, where artists pretended to do art and mostly got wrecked all day and made Indian food. The rooms were little boxes with those office block tiled ceilings, and I lived in my friends hallway on a flea-bitten and sheetless mattress because I’d spent all my money on beer and kebabs. I’d nowhere to live, and kindly my friend took me in. Part of me desperately wanted to just call Berlin a failed experiment and go home to mum and dad, but another part of me said ‘feck that.’ I’m not going back in the box. I’m an adult (apparently)!
In the first six months of living in Berlin, I lived in 9 different apartments. Stability was a thing of the past. Even in my wandering and nomadic lifestyle, nowhere was like Greenhouse. There was a bar on the bottom floor and the top floor, you could smoke in the elevator, and the bathrooms were communal. One morning, while getting up for my shower, wearing nothing but my towel and my shower gel, I found a bunch of policemen and a chalk outline on the carpet next to a brown stain, where some homeless guy had choked to death on his own vomit the evening before. There were all sorts of this shit in Greenhouse, which is why you would have expected to meet an extraterrestrial or two there, or maybe the devil himself, but probably not under the conditions which I eventually did.
I obviously needed to get my life together and stop drinking 40cent beers and washing dishes for a living, so I got a new job in a call center. The journey to work was a train and two buses away from where I lived. I could do in one hour flat. The real problem was I could never get any sleep the night before. I was never a good sleeper in the first place. As you could imagine, Greenhouse wasn’t the quietest of places, with a bar on the bottom and top floor, music studios next to your head, lunatics playing endless techno, and horny Italians doing the business, you would be lucky to get a few hours kip without interruption. So I was always anxious by the time the evening came around. I often suffered from that most annoying of anxiety at night, the fear of not being able to sleep, which makes you unable to sleep. Goddamit. Because of my poor sleeping, I would often suffer from sleep paralysis, an experience one doesn’t forget in a hurry. After a while, I got so used to it that most nights, there’d be some sort of demon sat on my chest, choking the life out of me, and I’d manage to remain reasonably unphased. The really unsettling thing about sleep paralysis is just how real it is. I thought about those experiences: a lot of dark, shadowy demons, witches, monsters, they sounded, they looked, they felt real? Sometimes it was difficult to see the difference between them and reality. I know I did get asleep that evening because of how I woke up.
This particular evening that this extraterrestrial experience occurred, I managed to sneak away from the party early. I had the six am shift, which meant being up at five on the dot—no messing around. I couldn’t be late and get fired and have to live in Greenhouse for the rest of my life! I definitely got to sleep, a horrendous, half-sleep, where you turned around more than a rotisserie chicken, and when I awoke, I was on my back. Now, remember, I live in a hallway. The hallway is narrow with a blue carpet, dark, almost black, and at the end is a refrigerator and a little shoe rack. I’m on the mattress, not a bed frame, so I’m basically level with the ground, and all of that was normal. But what wasn’t normal was the monster that was levitating above the ground in front of me.
He was made of a kind of liquid glass and filled with a blue and green gas like the dust at the edge of the milky way, with a horrendous demonic face that was not a frequent feature of the corridor I lived in, thankfully. So I started freaking out, trying to scream, wiggling my big toe, thinking, wake up! Wake up! This is some sort of grim reaper that comes for your soul in sleep! And then this weird looking fecker reaches down with his index finger and pushes on my chest real hard, like a was a giant doorbell, and I feel a massive buzz like just i’d been electrocuted, and I jolt forward in my bed - to the sound of my alarm clock going off. This is where the story gets really weird. I checked my phone: 5am? What was this? A ghostly wake-up call? A supernatural alarm clock? Why had this guy come to wake me up! I’m sitting there, panting, sweating, confused, annoyed I have to go to work, and I ask the question of myself, sort of innocently,
‘who the feck was that?’ And to my surprise, I get an answer. A thought in my head said;
‘Valiant Thor’. I’d never heard that name in my entire life. Obviously, I’d heard of Thor obviously, Norse God yada yada, but Valiant? Was it the same guy? Who knows…
At least I had my two buses and a train to think about all of this and no smartphone to look anything up! Conspiracy theory central! The first thing I did when I got into work was to research this Valiant Thor instead of doing my job. So I spent the first hour googling, and apparently, Valiant Thor is an alien from Venus who advised President Nixon in the White House during the 70s…Now I am not suggesting that this is a factual statement and that aliens are advising America’s president, though I imagine things would probably be a lot better if they did. But this character of Valiant Thor seems to be real, at least in the sense that he was the Brainchild of a Christian Science fiction writer named Frank E Stranges, who wrote a number of books under the name Valiant Thor. So at this point i’m like ok, clearly this is made up, but that doesn’t explain the fucking Alien that woke me up for work this morning?! I’m half expecting the CIA to kick in the call center door and take me off to area 51 - I felt positively radioactive. I decided i’d read some of Valiant Thor’s work and see if I could discern more of the dream’s mystery. He had written a book called ‘Outwitting Tomorrow: secrets of living from the great pyramid’ which you can get online, and was really, so very weird. I mean not badly written by any stretch of the imagination; here is the opening:
‘Outwitting tomorrow is a plan whereby you master the future instead of allowing the future to master you. For if you are mastered, you are merely a puppet of fate: but if you are the master, you will travel the bright Upward Path that destiny has prepared for you’.
Heavy stuff. The book is essentially a series of parables about personal development and transformation of the individual’s personalities, I suppose something which at that time, I was certainly in the infancy of doing. I read the book until he began doing maths with the pyramids’ angles to divine the future, and I thought, ok, I might have been touched by an alien but even I’m not falling for that crap. It was certainly an interesting day, being woken up by some sort of extraterrestrial outer space devil and then learning about Valiant Thor himself. At the start of a dream analysis, Jung always asks,,
“What is the mission of the dream? What is its goal or purpose? And what one-sidedness of the ego is it trying to counterbalance?” I don’t know if my subconscious was trying to scare the willies out of me or just get me up for work so I didn’t spend the rest of my life in Greenhouse; either way, it worked, I won’t forget the time I met an alien called Valiant Thor in the Greenhouse in a hurry. Very Berlin.